Meet the Author: Nadia King

Today’s author in the spotlight describes her writing as ‘raw, real and thought-provoking’ and is not afraid to tackle difficult subjects. It’s my pleasure to introduce Nadia King.

Photo: Louise Allen

Nadia was born in Dublin, Ireland and now calls Australia home. She is an author, blogger, and presenter. Her debut book, Jenna’s Truth, is published by boutique small press, Serenity Press based in Western Australia.
Nadia is passionate about using stories to reflect a diversity of realities in order to positively impact teen lives.
Her short fiction has been published by Write Out Publishing, and has appeared in The Draft Collective, The Regal Fox, The Sunlight Press, Tulpa Magazine, and Other Terrain Journal.
Nadia runs a teen book club for the Centre for Stories. She enjoys writing contemporary young adult fiction and short fiction, and lives in Western Australia with her family.

Find out more about Nadia on her website and social media links:

https://www.nadialking.com

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorNadiaLKing

https://twitter.com/nlkingauthor

https://www.linkedin.com/in/nadialking

https://www.instagram.com/nadialking

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write?  I write because I enjoy writing. The writing process is a way to connect with my creativity. I’m one of those people who feels too much and writing gives me a safe space to expel some emotion.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’ve always managed to work with words. My first job after school was in journalism and I worked for a number of years in corporate communications. Currently, I’m studying to build my editing skills with a view to freelance editing in the not so distant future.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? I hate to admit this but my toughest obstacle to becoming published was tied up with myself. I held myself back from creative writing for a very long time so it was almost a relief to get out there and try my luck with publication.

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Do you have input into the cover/illustrations? For my debut book, Jenna’s Truth I was very involved in the book’s development. For my short stories, I have little to do with choosing graphics etc although the magazines and journals I’ve been published by have been very open with me during editing. I don’t know if it’s because I’m an ex-journo but I really enjoy the editing process and collaborating with other creatives.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? I never know what will turn into a story and I find such possibilities exciting. Using stories to connect with others fills me with happiness. Stories are a way to share your perspective with the world in a profoundly human way. For me, stories are a constant source of joy.

—the worst? The worst is tied up with the best aspect of writing—wondering if what I’ve written will resonate with readers. I mainly try to ignore my wonderings and concentrate on being truthful with my writing. I believe if you are authentic and honest in writing, readers will connect with what you have to say.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I would write more short stories to gain experience in the craft. I would read more (although I’m not sure that’s humanly possible). I would be kinder by reassuring myself there is no one way of writing and I would take time to find out what works best for me.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? A tweet from author, Dea Poirier (@deapoirierbooks) lists five things she wished someone had told her five years ago. These points would definitely have been helpful to know before I embarked upon my writing journey:

  • You’ll never stop questioning yourself, no matter what you write
  • Don’t disregard praise and only focus on criticism
  • Impostor syndrome never gets better
  • Done is better than perfect
  • Perfect doesn’t exist

You are tackling some confronting issues in your fiction. What do you hope readers will take away from your stories? I’m very attracted to social justice issues and tend to tackle such issues in my writing. Even though I play with dark material, I strive to convey a sliver of hope and humanity. It’s that sense of faith and humanity I hope resonates with and engages readers.

Is there any area of writing that you still find challenging? All of it! Ha ha! Writing doesn’t get easier and I seem to be drawn to writing projects which I am ill-qualified to tackle. But that’s also what makes the work exciting. I jump in the deep end, swim bloody hard, and pray I’ll make it to the other side.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? ‘Just bloody write!’ While I was toying with the idea of writing fiction, there was a part of me which was paralysed with fear. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to meet with a playwright from New York who patiently listened to my rumination before giving me a shove in the right direction. His shove was exactly what I needed and before I knew it, I was writing every day.

What’s your top tip for aspiring authors? Ignore everyone else. I don’t mean to sound facetious but it’s so important to listen to your own voice. What are your dreams? Chase after your dreams not someone else’s. Not everyone will aspire to be on the New York Times Bestsellers’ list, and that’s okay. Pursue your own goals and define your own reality rather than following someone else’s idea of success.

How important is social media to you as an author? When I first started writing, social media was important because it gave me access to many other writers. Now though, it can often be a distraction. Social media can be valuable but it shouldn’t keep you from your work and if it takes away from your happiness, it may not be the right tool for you.

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? I was writing a manuscript a while back and it took me a while to ‘hear’ the voice of my protagonist. Writing can be a slow process. Respecting the process and nor coercing the words helps me find my voice for each project and overcome writer’s block.

How do you deal with rejection? Surprisingly well considering I’m quite a sensitive person. I’ve learnt not to take rejection personally and to realise the market can be fickle. There is a huge amount of competition out there and if you’re submitting to a traditional publisher, your manuscript needs to be commercially attractive. Coming to that realisation has freed me from my own personal pressures to seek publication.

In three words, how would you describe your writing? Raw, real, and thought-provoking.

If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life?

This is probably the hardest question of this interview. There are so many writers I would love to spend time with but I’ve narrowed it down to five:

  • Jane Austen (1775-1817, England) because she awakened in me a love of classic literature. I’m curious to know more about what made her tick and what were her motivations for writing.
  • Haruki Murakami (1949, Japan) because his stories make my heart pound in my chest. I would love to fangirl him one day and tell him how much his work means to me. If he could give me any tips on writing magical realism I would really appreciate it.
  • Favel Parrett (1974, Victoria, Australia) because her writing makes me weep. I would like to know why Favel writes and how she edits – I find her prose quite lyrical and she is generous, genuine and amazing.
  • Margaret Atwood (1939, Canada) because Alias Grace is one of my favourite books of all time. The structure of the book fascinates me and I would love to know how she went about planning the structure and tying it together with her research.
  • Germaine Greer (1939, Melbourne, Australia) because she’s fearless with her words and I admire her bravery and we both love drinking tea.

BOOK BYTE

Jenna’s Truth
N L King

New and revised edition (previously published by Aulexic).

Jenna’s just a teenager who wants to fit in. The popularity that she wanted though, quickly turns into infamy when two “well-meaning” friends spark a controversy that alters her life forever. What happens when the popular kids are responsible for one of the most painful and humiliating events in your life? Inspired by Amanda Todd’s tragic story of bullying, Jenna’s Truth is more than just teen short story – it’s a lesson in empathy, self-awareness, and speaking out about what matters. Jenna’s Truth is a gripping story, which explores the themes of cyber bullying, teen drinking, sex, and suicide.

Life is not black and white, and sometimes teens can be the most insensitive people.

‘Inspired by the real-life story of the late Canadian teenager Amanda Todd, this story puts a human face on cyberbullying…[and is] a deeply affecting, valuable story and educational tool.’ — Kirkus Reviews

Jenna’s Truth is available from the following outlets:

https://www.booktopia.com.au/jenna-s-truth-n-l-king/prod9780648212768.html

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/jennas-truth-nadia-l-king/1124839417

https://www.boffinsbooks.com.au/books/9780648212768/jennas-truth

https://www.serenitypress.org/product-page/jenna-s-truth

 

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Meet the Author: Sonia Bestulic

The spotlight this week is on a delightful new picture book about music and noisy play and it’s my pleasure to welcome author Sonia Bestulic, who stopped in during her celebratory book tour to chat about her writing life.

Sonia was born and grew up in Sydney, Australia, enjoying a childhood filled with wonderful books, a passion for writing, and musically entwined, having played the violin until her late teens, including performances at the
Sydney Opera House. Sonia is founder of Talking Heads Speech Pathology, the well-known, reputable Sydney-based clinics established in 2006. A long-term advocate for children’s learning and literacy, Sonia continues to write and speak when it comes to all things children.

You can find out more about Sonia at her website and on Facebook.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I write to create connection. Books are such a powerful and personal mode of connection, and with children’s picture books there is a beautiful layer of shared experience that occurs with the child and the reader (who is often a parent/ carer or educator). I consider myself and other authors as facilitators of connection, which is both humbling and amazing.

Where do you draw your creative inspiration? Very much from my personal experiences (with my own children and extended family), and professional life experiences working closely with children and families. Generally I enjoy observing life- the people, the places, and nature.

Where do you slot in time to write around your family commitments and career? Whenever I can – this is an ongoing challenge for me! Generally I do enjoy writing during early mornings and evening time when the children are asleep.

Reece Give me some Peace is a wonderful picture book about music and noisy play. It’s a delight and brought a smile to my day. It also reminded me of the precious little peace and quiet parents get to enjoy when children are young. Is the story inspired by personal experience?

Absolutely! I wrote Reece Give Me Some Peace! in the period of my life when my three young children were two, three and four years old at the time. Life was certainly hectic, and there was always activity happening. Having three children so close in age brought with it a strong reminder to live in the moment and be playful. Reece Give Me Some Peace! reflects that, as well as the difficulties parents often experience, in trying to enjoy moments of peace and quiet in a noisy child inhabited household.

How does your knowledge as a speech and language pathologist influence you as a children’s author? My knowledge as a Speech & Language Pathologist has a massive influence on my writing. I work so heavily to support and further develop children’s oral language skills and readiness to read, spell and write; and so I look to incorporate language features and themes that will create a rich and engaging language experience for children.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Patience and perseverance in having my voice heard in a busy and competitive industry.

How involved have you been in the development of your book? Did you have input into the cover/illustrations?

The development of the book has been a fantastic journey that I have certainly been involved in. I had welcome opportunities to provide feedback and collaborate with regards to the cover and overall illustrations; and initially was able to provide an illustrator’s brief, which allowed me to communicate the strong visual I had in my mind when writing the text.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The avenue for creative freedom and expression.

—the worst? Can be a challenge making the time to do as much writing as I would like!

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Set more dedicated writing time in my daily routine – this is still a current goal. Step out of my comfort zone sooner and proactively network.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Get ready to be extremely patient!

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Don’t evaluate your manuscripts based on whether a publisher takes them up or not.

What’s your top tip for aspiring authors? Keep writing, get feedback, keep submitting, network.

How important is social media to you as an author? I have to say, being comfortable using social media has been a bit of a journey for me. I have always preferred a more quiet life on social media; however I quickly realised the importance and relevance of connecting to an audience through social media – it really is an avenue that allows an author to effectively engage others in sharing their author journey, book travels, and just get to know them as a person overall. I certainly had to step out of my comfort zone!

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? By taking a mind break and doing something different. I try to be very clear on what specific obstacle I am facing/having difficulty with, and then I move on to a different task, as often ideas and solutions flow more easily when I am not overly focused on the task at hand. Taking a walk, sitting quietly observing nature and even doing household tasks allows my mind to wander and work through that block and provide me with at least the very next step to take.

Do you have another book in the pipeline? I sure do; I have another children’s picture book in the making at present; and it is due to be published with Big Sky Publishing mid-2019. Nancy Bevington is once again the illustrator, and it is looking beautifully amazing so far.

In three words, how would you describe your writing? A constant evolution.

If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? It would definitely by Dr Seuss! I would love to know as much as possible – his inspiration, his typical day, his toughest challenges in the industry, his tips and strategies, his way of organising his great ideas.

BOOK BYTE

Reece Give Me Some Peace

Written by Sonia Bestulic, illustrated by Nancy Bevington

A fun-loving book about the wonderful world of music and of noisy play!

Reece is a very cheeky, curious young boy who loves making NOISE. Today he’s making music. There are lots of interesting clangs, bangs and thumps coming from his room as his playing gets more and more vigorous. His mother’s requests for him to be quieter only seem to make him louder and louder. As his exuberance for his playing grows, so does his mother’s exasperation! Will she ever get any peace?

The simple rhythmic text combined with delightful illustrations remind us of the power of learning through play and exploration. Kids will love making the lively sounds, and parents and carers will relate to the challenge of being able to enjoy some quiet; especially when there are instruments at play!

The book is available from book retailers and also from the publisher here

You can find out more about Sonia and her book by following the blog tour.

 

 

 

 

 

Here are the direct links:

Monday Sep 3 – Sunday Sep 16 www.justkidslit.com/blog

Monday Sep 3 mrsbbookreviews.wordpress.com

Tuesday Sep 4 educateempower.com.au

Wednesday Sep 5 blog.boomerangbooks.com.au

Thursday Sep 6 kelliebyrnes.com

Monday Sep 10 sharingyourstory.com.au

Tuesday Sep 11 telltalestome.wordpress.com

Wednesday Sep 12 missielovesbooks.com

Thursday Sep 13 readingtime.com.au

Friday Sep 14 readilearn.com.au

Just Write For Kids & Books On Tour www.justkidslit.com/books-on-tour www.facebook.com/booksontouraus www.twitter.com/booksontour_aus www.instagram.com/booksontour_aus

Meet the Author: Tanya Southey

Tanya’s top tip for aspiring authors: Just write.  Write if it’s crappy, write if you can’t find the right sentence, write.  Sometimes I trick myself when I am sitting waiting for the most perfect sentence to appear, I start typing “Blah, blah, perfect sentence and then this happened…” and I write whatever came next and then I come back and write the first sentence later.

Tanya Southey is a grown-up.  Well, most of the time.  She has lived in multiple worlds – business, charities and consulting. Ollie and the Starchaser is Tanya’s first published book.  The book is close to her heart as it explores family, the place she likes living in the most.

Tanya grew up in South Africa, has lived in the USA and now calls Australia home.  She has a husband, a daughter and three dogs. The dogs keep the family entertained and are lively characters in her book. Tanya has always worked to help people reach their potential, navigate life and all its challenges.  Her books whether for children, adults or poetry all touch on the beauty of an ordinary life and she hopes they resonate with her readers’ desire to lead their best lives.

Visit Tanya’s author Website to find out more: http://www.tanyasouthey.com

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? This question is a little like “Why do you breathe?”  I have always written, from when I was about six years old.  It’s a way for me to process the world with all its emotions.  I let it lie for some years, but I still scratched the occasional poem in a journal.

What inspires you creatively? Inspiration comes from two of my senses; the most dominant are visual prompts, beautiful photographs, scenery or art.  The other is music.  It could be a song with lyrics or an instrumental piece of music that evokes a feeling in me. I also find wide open spaces, trees, beaches, blue or rainy skies just open the valve and get the words flowing.

What was your path to publication? Please share a little of your writing journey. I am self-published at the moment.  I sent my manuscript to some traditional publishers, but the path to publishing seemed long and I had this distinct feeling that the timing for my current book was now.  I had already ruminated on the story for nine years and I had the time to get it into the world, so I decided to “just do it”. I wanted my mum to hold the book in her hands and she’s not getting any younger.

My path involved getting a first draft out and I ruminated on that for nine years while I did writing courses and learned about the publishing world.  I found an editor, worked closely with her and then self-published in six months.  I also had a long-standing girlfriend complete a final proofread. She is like the Soup Nazi in Seinfeld, with grammar, and she made sure that commas, tenses and spelling were all correct.

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Do you have input into the cover/illustrations? My current book Ollie and the Starchaser was a collaboration with my daughter, Jess Southey.  Jess is a professional artist and I wanted to work with her.  I handed her the manuscript and got out of her way.  I gave her very little artistic direction.  What was amazing for me, was seeing the imagery of the story through her eyes as an artist.  She has created a drawing for the beginning of each chapter and this has brought the story to life in addition to the words.

I am also working on a project called #52words52weeks.  On New Year’s Eve, I posted on Facebook, and asked my friends to give me 52 words and I am writing a poem a week for this year.  Three weeks in, my friend in London who is a street photographer (or as I call her ‘poetographer’) teamed up with me and we have been pairing her images with my poems every week.  This has been a joyous project and we plan to publish a coffee table book with her photos and my poems at the end of the year.  The cover will be one of her beautiful pictures.  You can follow this on project on my author page on Facebook (Tanya Southey – Author) or on Instagram @tanyasouthey.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The best part of writing is creating worlds and characters that don’t exist anywhere except in your head.  Since being published, my new best feeling is everyone else’s reactions to what I have created.  My biggest surprise is how much Ollie and the Starchaser has resonated with adults.  I didn’t expect adults to feel so much in a children’s story. I have loved that.

—the worst? The obvious is writer’s block.  But I have so much different writing happening at any moment, that if I am stuck on one project, I just move to the next and come back to it.  My other ‘weird’ worst is that I often ‘download’ a whole poem, or perfect sentences for a book, while I am driving.  The problem is that if I don’t pull over and write it down straight away, it often disappears or loses the perfect wording.  I have been known to pull over (safely) and quickly write a poem on my iPhone.

What do you do when you aren’t writing? I read voraciously. I have done this since I was a kid.  I spend time with my family and my three dogs.  I also run a consulting business, a health product side-hustle and pretend that I have retired from the corporate world, but people keep finding me and giving me work to do.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I wish I had found the space and confidence to publish sooner.  I also knew intellectually from talking to other authors, how much time marketing your book takes, but the reality is that has been very intense.  You really do end up becoming, a marketer, advertiser, event coordinator, administrator, public speaker, book packer, post office runner and social media guru.   With all of this, I think that I would have been more prepared and planned for when the book came out.  It’s been organic launch chaos!

You are tackling the issue of grief and loss in your new children’s book, which many can find confronting. What do you hope readers will take away from your story? In all my work in corporations and consulting I have had a theme of dealing with difficult emotions or situations.  The paradox in life is the more we try to protect ourselves and our children from difficult emotions, the less resilient we become.  This book is a gentle introduction to love, loss, family and grief.  The messages are hidden in an adventure story and it is an uplifting story that can be used as a scaffolding for difficult conversations.  Children who have not experienced grief and loss have enjoyed the story as an adventure story, with younger ones not even realising that the grandmother has passed away.  The secondary theme centres on Ollie’s grandmother Nanoo, who is a feisty, strong woman who has not only had a family but also succeeded in the male-dominated world of astronomy.  I have also loved coaching and developing women to do anything they want, so it seemed natural that Nanoo was going to be a quirky woman who can become a role model for girls and boys.

Is there any area of writing that you find especially challenging? Grammar and tenses.  Tenses make me tense!  I sometimes get carried away in the adventurous parts and end up in the present tense when the book is written in the past tense.  Thankfully, the editors are angels who can see this if you don’t spot it first!

What’s the best advice – writing or otherwise – you were ever given? I have been working closely with Joanne Fedler who runs a mentoring program for writers. I love how Joanne teaches to take the personal and strip it back so that it becomes universal.  I am so looking forward to spending the next 12 months with Joanne and a group of aspiring authors as we write our next first drafts together.  I also think being able to recognise when you are writing from a clichéd perspective.  You need to try to stay fresh and original and true to your own voice.

How important is social media to you as an author? I know it’s important for building a platform and for awareness.  I am not obsessing about getting 10s of thousands of followers.  I love my loyal friends and followers and they make me feel accountable to write.  For me it’s a way to stay connected with fans that I love and meet new ones.  The rest is incidental.

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? If I am suffering from writer’s block, then there is likely to be too much going on in my head or in my life.  One technique to become unstuck is to do the “morning pages” that Julia Cameron describes in her brilliant book for creatives – The Artist’s Way.  She also suggests a two-hour artist’s date, where you go out alone and do something that you love.  I find I come back refreshed and with new perspectives.

In three words, how would you describe your writing? Diverse, quirky, wisdom-seeking

What is your ultimate writing dream? I would love one of my books to become a movie.  I would be so happy if I could reach non-readers through the medium of film.

If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? Only one? I would love to hear from Maya Angelou and how she managed to convey so much emotion and wisdom in her work.  A living person would be Brenè Brown. I would love to ask her how she takes such difficult topics like shame and vulnerability and makes them funny, accessible and engaging.

BOOK BYTE

Ollie and the Starchaser

by Tanya Southey, illustrated by Jessica Southey

Nanoo is Ollie’s beloved grandmother and an astronomer who discovered the planet Terenza, in a gentle galaxy east of the moon. When Nanoo disappears on a trip to the Outback, Ollie cannot accept that she is gone. He is worried, sad and refuses to believe that Nanoo would leave him. He feels helpless sitting around on his farm with only his faithful Labrador, Chloe, to listen to his feelings. However, his luck changes when the Starchaser and his Star-fordshire Terrier, Buddy, plot a way to get to Earth from Terenza. The boys and their dogs begin an epic adventure to find Nanoo. Their journey takes them across the Outback, up the Steps to the Moon and into space. But will Ollie find her, and will he bring her home?

 

The book is available from the following sites:

https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001156396 – direct from the publisher

https://jesssouthey.bigcartel.com/product/ollie-and-the-starchaser – for a signed copy

BUY ON AMAZON
BUY ON BOOK DEPOSITORY
BUY ON BOOKTOPIA
BUY ON BARNES & NOBLE

 

 

Meet the Author: James Cristina

My guest author this week is James Cristina whose debut novel, Antidote to a Curse, has been described as ‘an astute exploration of the nature of identity’ by the acclaimed author Janette Turner Hospital.

James Cristina was born in Malta. His parents migrated to
Australia in the late sixties and he grew up in Melbourne.
He has taught English in Australia, Malta, England, the
US, Jordan, Bahrain, Switzerland, Belgium, South Korea
and Oman. He holds a PhD in Creative Writing from the
University of East Anglia.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? Because characters, scenes, plotlines and phrases materialise, take shape and evolve. It seems natural to want to write these down.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? I’m first and foremost a teacher. I’ve enjoyed my years of teaching at home and abroad.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? There were many obstacles. Developing a book-length piece of fiction to a level that I was satisfied with was possibly the biggest obstacle.

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Do you have input into the cover/illustrations? Working with Transit Lounge has been great. I am involved. The creative and professional direction has been inspiring and productive. I certainly appreciate the sincerity of the dialogue. Yes, I’ve been given a lot of freedom and opportunity to express viewpoints.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? Seeing the characters and plotline take shape and eventually become independent of you. You essentially feel like you are making something.

—the worst? Feeling like you don’t have time to jot down ideas.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? While I think my teaching, my travels and experiences have been important, I wish I had given myself more time to write.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I think I was fortunate. From the very beginning, I met wonderful writers and academics who were sincere and generous.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? How far you go with any given piece is up to you and your internal critic.

What’s your top tip for aspiring authors? It’s an individual journey, but if I had to give advice it would be to keep at it.

How important is social media to you as an author? The freedom to be able to use any social network is important, though till now I tend to work directly with people I have met in person over the years.

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? Not really. I don’t think I’ve had the time or freedom to pursue the number of ideas that have come to me. I’ve certainly reached an impasse or two with the novel Antidote to A Curse over the years, but there have always been other pieces, mainly poems, to pursue.

How do you deal with rejection? Try again.

In three words, how would you describe your writing? Subjective, ambitious and exploratory.

If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? I’ve been making slow progress with Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa. I wonder if and what he would offer about writing this extraordinary epistolary novel. I certainly would love to know how this piece evolved. Would he meet up with me for a coffee?

BOOK BYTE

Antidote to a Curse

James Cristina

It’s the ’90s. Silvio Portelli returns to Melbourne after
time spent teaching in England and rents a room from
the charismatic octogenarian, Nancy Triganza. Nancy is
having an elaborate aviary constructed to indulge her
passion for birds. At a city sex shop, Silvio meets the
mysterious Zlatko, a Bosnian immigrant and, in a previous
life, a collector of rare birds. Silvio becomes obsessed with
Zlatko, and his own journal and dreams begin to mirror
Zlatko’s past, and in time the reality of what happened
in Bosnia. Such revelations are counterpointed by Silvio’s
own tense wait to learn the results of his tests for HIV.
Bold in design, Antidote to a Curse is a story in which
the hunter becomes the hunted, the writer the subject,
and vice versa. Cristina lovingly captures Stalactites cafe
where Zlatko and Silvio often meet, and a city enmeshed
with Europe, both physically and in spirit.
Rich with images and allusions yet grounded in the
everyday Antidote to a Curse is a startling debut. Cristina
subtly draws the reader deeper and deeper into a state of
psychological obsession where only the truth can provide
a way out.

Meet the Author: Justine Ettler

Justine Ettler’s The River Ophelia, (Picador,
1995) was a best-seller in Australia and New
Zealand and has been taught at HSC and
university level. Her novel, Marilyn’s Almost
Terminal New York Adventure, (Picador) was published the following year to critical acclaim. In 1997 Justine was selected as one of six Australian authors to tour the UK as part of the New Images Writer’s Tour, and subsequently moved to London where she lived until 2007. She worked as
a book reviewer at The Observer, The Evening Standard, and The Times Literary Supplement, lectured in Creative Writing,
and worked as a reader for the London literary agency,
Cornerstones, as well as for The Literary Consultancy.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? Because I love writing.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Difficult to imagine but I’d probably be a musician.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Learning how to keep writing through rejection and poverty.

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Do you have input into the cover/illustrations? Yes, I had input into designing the cover for Bohemia Beach; not so much with my first two books.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The peace I feel when writing.

—the worst? Having my writing misrepresented in the media.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Take some time out from love relationships to concentrate on my writing.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Choose a more nurturing publisher over a bigger chequebook.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Keep writing and don’t quit your day job.

What’s your top tip for aspiring authors? Find an agent/publisher who understands what you’re trying to do and is in it for the long haul.

How important is social media to you as an author? It can lead to good contacts, I don’t use it for my personal life.

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? Accept it as part of the process and keep writing even if all I’m doing is journaling.

How do you deal with rejection? By trying not to take it personally.

In three words, how would you describe your writing? True, complex, original.

If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? George Eliot, and I’d love to ask her tell how it felt to be married to a supportive, literary husband.

BOOK BYTE

Bohemia Beach

Justine Ettler

Catherine Bell, a famous concert pianist, is struggling to
hold on to her career in a competitive international arena
that spans the classical music capitals of the world. After a
disastrous show in Copenhagen, Cathy is about to attempt
her first concert performance without alcohol in Prague
when her marriage implodes, her terminally ill, Czech-born
mother goes missing from her London hospital, and
a much needed highly paid recording deal falls through.
Cathy finds herself coping in the only way she knows how:
grasping a glass of forbidden pre-performance champagne
and flirting with Tomas, a stranger in a Prague nightclub.
While her therapist Nelly advises her to abstain, Cathy’s
relationship with drink, and Tomas, draws her deep into a
whirlpool of events as mysterious, tense and seductive as
Prague itself. Justine Ettler’s discipline in the writing is as
controlled as Cathy is out of control– the novel brilliantly
references classics such as Wuthering Heights – and as with
Rachel in The Girl on a Train the reader is drawn into the
protagonist’s predicament with moving, palpable intensity.
Bohemia Beach is an edge of your seat ride, a compelling
story of addiction, passionate love and the power of art. It
heralds the return of one of Australia’s most distinctive authors.

Buy the book here: http://transitlounge.com.au/shop/bohemia-beach/

 

Meet the Author: Kate Simpson

It’s always an occasion for celebration when a new book is sent out into the world and today it’s my pleasure to introduce Kate Simpson, whose picture book Finding Granny is set to touch the hearts of young readers and their families. Kate’s doing a Blog Tour this week and full details follow our chat…

Kate  is a picture book author and co-host of the children’s book podcast One More Page. Kate’s debut picture book Finding Granny, illustrated by Gwynneth Jones, tells the story of a small girl whose world is turned on its head when her beloved grandmother suffers a stroke. As well as being an author, Kate is also one third of the children’s book podcast One More Page, which features guest interviews, book reviews and giveaways, as well as a kid-centric segment called Kids Capers. Find out more about Kate at www.katesimpsonbooks.com.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/katesimpsonbooks/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ksimpsonbooks

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18072918.Kate_Simpson

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? I write because I love it. I didn’t discover writing until I was in my thirties, but now that I’ve found it, I wouldn’t be without it. I’m going to go a little bit Jerry Maguire and say that it completes me.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Well, from a financial point of view, writing is definitely the smallest part of what I do. I trained as a chemical engineer and in my day job I supervise asset upgrade works at two water treatment plants and a water recycling plant south of Sydney.

I guess if I wasn’t a writer as well as an engineer, I’d watch a whole lot more TV, sleep more and perhaps find more time to catch up with friends. But it’s all worth it!

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? I was quite fortunate in that my first manuscript got picked up relatively quickly. By that, I don’t mean overnight, and I don’t mean the first manuscript I ever wrote,  but within a few years of starting this writing gig, I was lucky enough to have Finding Granny selected for publication.

Aside from good luck, the main thing that I think takes the credit for this is my fantastic critique group, who not only helped me get my manuscripts into shape but also gave me great tips about how to work towards publication.

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Do you have input into the cover/illustrations? I had a reasonable amount of involvement. This is my first published book and from talking to other writers, I had the impression that I would have virtually no input into the selection of illustrator and into the content of the illustrations, but in fact the publisher did consult me. I had an opportunity to provide my opinion on the choice of illustrator and to provide feedback on the roughs. I understand that illustrating is the illustrator’s  job, not mine, so I hope Gwynne would agree that I wasn’t completely diva-ish about what I wanted to see in the illustrations.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? I suppose the creative satisfaction. I just love the feeling when you’re trying to achieve something on the page and it just sort of clicks. As the A-Team would say: I love it when a plan comes together!

—the worst? Fitting it in. I’m finding it harder and harder to find time to write around the other commitments in my life. I would love to have just a day a week to dedicate to my writing, but alas, it’s not to be (at least at the moment).

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? I don’t think I’d do anything differently. The single best decision I made when I was starting out was to join my wonderful critique group at the NSW Writers’ Centre, and they have made everything easier and taught me a packet, as well as becoming my tribe.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? I wish I’d been told when I was seven years old that this was even possible. I’ve always loved books but I thought that I couldn’t be a writer because I didn’t have any ideas. The thing I’ve learned is that for many of us, ideas don’t just fall from the sky. We need to go searching for them, cultivate them and sometimes just get out a bit of butcher’s paper and some permanent markers and brainstorm them! If anyone is struggling with story ideas, I’d strongly suggest trying Tara Lazar’s Storystorm, a month-long brainstorming challenge held in January, with the goal of coming up with 30 story ideas in 31 days. When you stop trying to find the perfect idea and just focus on coming up with as many ideas as you can, it’s amazing how the creative juices start flowing and how many of the ideas you have turn out to be real gems. There’s a wonderful quote from Linus Pauling that really sums this up: “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.”

What’s the best advice you were ever given? This is a long game. It’s unlikely to happen overnight and even if it does, it’s unlikely to make you a fortune or even allow you to quit your day job. You must be doing it because you love it. There is no other rational reason.

What’s your top tip for aspiring authors? Well, I’ve probably made it clear already that my top tip is to join a critique group (preferably an awesome one, like the one I was fortunate enough to join). But since I’ve more or less covered that, I’ll add a second one: Don’t get caught up comparing yourself to other people. This is pretty basic life advice but it goes double for authors. Writing is not always a meritocracy. There is a lot of luck involved in whose work gets published and, once published, in whose work gets noticed. If news stories about overnight successes get you inspired, then by all means pay attention, but if you find yourself turning green with envy, it’s time to switch to another channel.

How important is social media to you as an author? I’m going to be honest and say I don’t know. Everyone advises you to have a strong social media presence and I do have a Twitter profile as an author and an author Facebook page, as well as a podcast, but as to how all that helps you to progress your career, I really don’t know. The one thing I do love is the wonderful writing community I’ve found through social media. Groups like Just Write for Kids and Jen Storer’s The Duck Pond are fantastic for creating a virtual tribe who understand what you’re doing and are interested in hearing you yabber on about kids’ books non-stop. Twitter can feel like a pretty negative place sometimes, but post a good news story about winning a writing competition or finishing a manuscript or having a book coming out, and watch how happy people are to celebrate with you.

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? I absolutely experience writer’s block. More often than not when I sit down to write I really struggle to get the words flowing. One thing that I find often works for me to overcome this is to sit down with a pile of books that I love and that are in a similar vein to what I’m trying to write and I read a whole bunch of them in a row so that I am filled with the emotion that I’m trying to create on the page. Reading books I love also reminds me of why I love to write and gets me excited about putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard).

How do you deal with rejection? With difficulty. Look, nobody likes rejection, right? But to be honest, I actually find the fear of rejection often to be worse than the rejection itself. The fear is what puts me off submitting my manuscripts, or even showing them to people whose opinion I respect.

One thing that I find helpful in dealing with rejections is to go on Amazon or Goodreads, find one of my favourite books and read the one-star reviews for that book. Even awesome books are not for everyone.

In three words, how would you describe your writing? Varied, emotive, intimate.

If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? It’s funny you should ask. I’m lucky enough to have this opportunity roughly once a month on my children’s book podcast One More Page. I started working on One More Page almost a year ago with friends and fellow kidlit lovers Nat Amoore and Liz Ledden and since then I’ve had the privilege of knocking on doors and asking people if they would be willing to be interviewed for the podcast. Mostly, this is just an excuse for me to sit down and chat to some really awesome people about their books, craft and all the side stuff that goes along with writing. We’ve been on air since February and in that time I’ve interviewed authors, illustrators, editors and publishers including Jess Walton, Leigh Hobbs, Sue Whiting, Nicky Johnston and Anna McFarlane. It’s a dream come true!

BOOK BYTE

When Edie’s beloved Granny suffers a stroke, Edie feels as if she’s lost her – but the Granny she loves is still there. Finding Granny is a heart-warming story of changing relationships and the bond between children and grandparents. It’s also a sensitive exploration of coping with illness and disability that will offer children much-needed comfort.

You can purchase Finding Granny at https://www.booktopia.com.au/finding-granny-kate-simpson/prod9781925335699.html

Check out the rest of the links for the Finding Granny book tour:

Sunday July 1 – Saturday July 7 www.justkidslit.com/blog

Monday July 2 sharingyourstory.com.au

Tuesday July 3 intheirownwrite.wordpress.com

Wednesday July 4 blog.boomerangbooks.com.au

Thursday July 5 readingtime.com.au

Friday July 6 brydiewright.com

Saturday July 7 whenigrowupiwannawriteakidsbook.blogspot.com.au

 For all enquiries to Books On Tour @ www.justkidslit.com/books-on-tour

 

 

Meet the Author: Joanne Anderton

Joanne Anderton is a Sydney-sider who writes speculative fiction for adults, young adults…and pretty much anyone who likes their worlds a little different. She sprinkles a touch of science fiction to spice up her fantasy, and thinks horror adds flavour to just about everything. Joanne is addicted to anime and manga, and says these are strong influences in her writing.

Her adult science fiction/fantasy novels have been published by Angry Robot Books and Fablecroft Publishing. Debris was shortlisted for the Aurealis Award for best fantasy novel, and the Ditmar award for best novel. Its sequel Suited was shortlisted for the Aurealis Award for best science fiction novel, and the Ditmar award for best novel. Book three, Guardian, was published in 2014.

Joanne’s short story collection, The Bone Chime Song and Other Stories won the Aurealis Award for best collection, and the Australian Shadows Award for best collected work. Her short fiction has been shortlisted for multiple awards, and reprinted in several Year’s Best. Joanne’s novels and short story collection have received international review coverage in The New York Journal of BooksThe GuardianLibrary Journal and Publishers Weekly.

Find out more about Joanne here.

AUTHOR INSIGHT

Why do you write? Because I love writing.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer? Difficult to imagine but I’d probably be a musician.

What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Learning how to keep writing through rejection and poverty.

How involved have you been in the development of your books? Do you have input into the cover/illustrations? Yes, I had input into designing the cover for Bohemia Beach; not so much with my first two books.

What’s the best aspect of your writing life? The peace I feel when writing.

—the worst? Having my writing misrepresented in the media.

What would you do differently if you were starting out now as a writer? Take some time out from love relationships to concentrate on my writing.

What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author? Choose a more nurturing publisher over a bigger cheque book.

What’s the best advice you were ever given? Keep writing and don’t quit your day job.

What’s your top tip for aspiring authors? Find an agent/publisher who understands what you’re trying to do and is in it for the long haul.

How important is social media to you as an author? It can lead to good contacts, I don’t use it for my personal life.

Do you experience ‘writer’s block’ and if so, how do you overcome it? Accept it as part of the process and keep writing even if all I’m doing is journaling.

How do you deal with rejection? By trying not to take it personally.

In three words, how would you describe your writing? True, complex, original.

If you had the chance to spend an hour with any writer of your choice, living or dead, who would it be and what would you most like them to tell you about living a writing life? George Eliot, and I’d love to ask her tell how it felt to be married to a supportive, literary husband.

BOOK BYTE

The Flying Optometrist

Written by Joanne Anderton, illustrated by Karen Erasmus

The Flying Optometrist travels in his little red aeroplane from his practice in the city to a remote outback town. Lots of people are waiting for him! Aunty can’t see well enough to carve her emu eggs and Bill the plumber has a splinter in his eye. Young Stephanie can’t wait for him to arrive as she has broken her glasses and can’t join in games of cricket and have fun with her friends – she can’t see the ball! Hurry up Flying Optometrist! Where is he? Is he lost?

The townsfolk wait with bated breath until finally the Flying Optmetrist’s little red plane appears, having only just missed a bad storm. A big meal waits for him in the local hotel. Then starts work checking eyesight. The Flying Optometrist doesn’t have long, but he helps as many people as he can. He returns to the city but Stephanie has to wait a little longer for an exciting package to come – her new glasses!

The book is available here.